Tasty Margarita Variations You Need to Know About
Mar. 14, 2016
From the Margarita of the Year SeriesSee more
Whether it’s served frozen, on the rocks, or up in the classic style, purists contend that a true margarita should exclusively contain fresh lime juice, tequila, and orange liqueur. So, what about all the new flavors and presentations? When does a margarita stop being a margarita?
After the introduction of blenders into the equation, fruit flavors became increasingly popular. Frozen strawberry margaritas, perhaps inspired by the popular blended daiquiri of the 1970’s, were the first to emerge. Soon, the frozen margarita was imported from the USA to Mexico via restaurateurs catering to American tourists and ex-pats. Bars and restaurants in resort towns started experimenting with tropical fruits like mango, guava, cantaloupe, passion fruit, and coconut, flavors that traveled back to Mexican restaurants across the U.S.
Those who preferred a drink closer to the classic margarita turned to infusing tequila with fruits like watermelon to serve the cocktail up or on the rocks. It didn’t take long for creative bartenders to put their own spin on the cocktail, introducing more exotic ingredients. Mexican bartenders use jamaica (hibiscus) flower and tamarind to flavor margaritas, adding a spicy touch by mixing ground dried chiles to the salt used for rimming. Mexicans have an affinity for things that combine sweet, tart, salty and spicy flavors, so these drinks were very well received - a spicy salt rim on a frozen mango margarita brings back memories of popular candies and treats from childhood.
In the Southwest U.S., the fruit of the prickly pear cactus has become a favorite ingredient in margaritas, giving the cocktail an unmistakably bright magenta color. And thanks to the high-end mixology and garden-to-glass trends, bartenders in places far and wide are muddling fresh jalapeño and serrano chiles, cilantro, cucumber, and other herbs and spices to create novel concoctions.
So it begs the questions: is a margarita a margarita by any other name? Are all these variations acceptable under the definition of a margarita, or should these delicious yet unorthodox cocktails go by a different name? The jury is still out on this hotly debated issue.
And don’t forget to check out The 2016 Margarita of the Year contenders you also need to know about:
Claudia Alarcon, a native of Mexico City, is an Austin-based freelance writer.